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Dev Game Club

Join hosts and game industry veterans Brett Douville and Tim Longo as they explore older titles to talk about the influences those games had and what we can learn from them even today.
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Now displaying: July, 2017
Jul 26, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are kicking off a new series on 1991's Super Mario World, a SNES pack-in title. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Yoshi's Island

Podcast breakdown:
0:40    SMW Discussion
48:36  Break
49:18  Feedback

Issues covered: Tanooki suits, the ubiquity of Mario, the console versions of the game, Tim's history with 2D platforming, recognizable characters, overworld presentation, confusion, choosing right rather than left, being able to trust the level progression or not, starting over with each level, making a poor choice, having all the skills from the very beginning, ability set, replaying things to gain skill, game over, time limits, Brett's strategy, ways to get extra lives, mastery, the many rules and abilities you learn in just this first world, tutorial blocks, enemy hints, power ups, being unforgiving, game over screen, game value and arcades, tolerating different aesthetics of play, Tim's preferences in play, speculation about a Half-Life 3, small universe problem, AI challenges, Ico and Yorda, Super Games Done Quick, motion sickness, games that didn't get their due, HL2 crowbar moment.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tomb Raider, Square, Donkey Kong, Nintendo, Doki Doki Panic, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Civilization, Monkey Island 2, Wing Commander 2, Another World, Mega Man 4, Final Fantasy IV, Super Castlevania, ToeJam and Earl, Super Ghosts and Ghouls, Alex Neuse, Mickey Mouse, Tetris, Mortal Kombat, Candy Crush, Halo, Daniel Craig, James Bond, Dungeons and Dragons, System Shock 2, Half Life, Counterstrike, Nintendo Power, DLC, Crash Bandicoot, GTA V, Dark Souls, Shigeru Miyamoto, Koji Kondo, nambulous, Portal, Chewbacca, Yoda, Star Wars: Episode III, Empire Strikes Back, Marc Laidlaw, Mark of Kri, Rise of the Kasai, Ico, Valve Software, Jonathan DeLuca, Ross Hadden, LucasArts, Jedi Outcast, Ratchet & Clank, Earthbound, Undertale, Super Meat Boy, Christian Spicer, Jeff Cannata, RebelFM, Raven Software, Quake III, The Witness, Aaron Evers, Shogo: Mobile Division, LithTech, No One Lives Forever, Loom, The Dig, Rise of the Dragon, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Realms of the Haunting, Anachronox, MDK, Hexen, Heretic, Reed Knight, Daikatana, Deus Ex, David Perry, Shiny, Earthworm Jim, Sacrifice, Planet Moon Studios, Sly Cooper, Commandos, Eidos, Tribes, Majestic, EA, Neil Young, John Riccitello, LMNO, ngmoco, Jedi Starfighter, Republic Commando, Vagrant Story, Sean Donovan, Mr. Merlin, TakLocke, BattleTech, MechWarrior, TIE Fighter, Zone of the Enders, Kojima, MechAssault.

BrettYK: 35
TimYK: 54

Links:
Swordless Link to the Past run
Jedi Outcast speedrun

Next time:
Donut Plains
Vanilla Dome

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 19, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we have been discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we do a little bonus work and turn to its sequel, Half-Life 2, released at the end of 2004. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Sections played:
Up to Water Hazard

Podcast breakdown:
0:36   HL2 Discussion
40:05 Break
40:35 Feedback

Issues covered: the airboat: digital input/analogue output, E3 demo, face technology, glossing over the interlude between the two games, characters as connective tissue, establishment of setting, building of tension, commitment to first person as production concern in HL1/creative commitment in HL2, waiting in line for food dispenser, art direction, the oppressor vs the oppressed, masks in Antonov's art direction, disempowering the player, physics technology, influence of 1984 on City 17 (the proles), multiple instantiations of characters in HL, playing on nostalgia, domesticated head crab Lamarr, everything goes haywire, Alex's introduction, fully realized space (HL1) vs fully realized characters (HL2), being unable to break the scene, humor in the scenes, humor for exposition, humor as humanity, interaction of all the physics systems, real world rules, buoyancy puzzles, inspiring Tomb Raider design, linearity and looping back on goals, pacing working against non-linearity/goal puzzling, lack of ability to return to places, the Vortigant member of the resistance, reintroducing the HEV suit, self-awareness, audio for Combine, EKG death sound, the audio equivalent of screenshake, Marin County Fair, licensed engines and internal engines, avoiding dependency, amortizing development cost, what a game engine provides, changes we made to Unreal to support Republic Commando, additions to Source engine in HL2, making your game not look like other games made with an engine, having access to source code, prototyping vs making things perform well, evaluating pros and cons, economic reasons, changing engines mid-stream, remastering and rewriting renderers, marketing reasons for sequels and leveraging existing technology and knowledge base, design documentation, game design documents (GDDs) vs scrum, documenting for your own sake, documenting tech features, producers as living documents, using a document as a tool for yourself, visual tools, on-screen is king.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Marc Laidlaw, Dario Casali, The Last Guardian, Halo, Daron Stinnett, Republic Commando, Soylent Green, Carl Wattenberg, Viktor Antonov, Dishonored (series), Arkane Studios, 1984, William Shakespeare, Tomb Raider, Batman, Kelly Bailey, Alex Farr, Rebel Assault II, X-Wing, Quake, Unreal, Frostbite Engine, EA, Battlefield, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefront, Mass Effect, iD Software, Ubisoft, Snowdrop engine, Rayman Legends, Michel Ancel, Activision, UbiArt Framework, Gears of War, Sea of Thieves, Player Unknown's Battlegrounds, Bethesda Softworks, Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, Unity, Tacoma, Bethesda Game Studios, Starfighter (series), Full Throttle II, Mysteries of the Sith, Chris Klie, LEIA engine, LucasArts, Jedi Knight, Crystal Dynamics, Bungie, Duke Nuke'em Forever, Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank (series), Fallout 3, Skyrim, Goldeneye, N64, Rare Replay, Dan Hunter, TIE Fighter, Troy Mashburn, Stone Librande, SimCity, SNES Classic, Nintendo, Super Metroid, Link to the Past, Alex Neuse, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo New 3DS, Wii, Yoshi's Island.

Stats:
BrettYK: 23
TimYK: 40

Next time:
Super Mario World: Play through Yoshi's Island

Link:
Stone Librande on One-Page Game Designs

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 12, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we welcome Dario Casali, a level designer who worked on Half-Life and is still with the company all these years later. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:39       Interview with Dario Casali
1:04:41  Break
1:05:03  Feedback segment

Issues covered: current status of Tacoma, games in 1993, connecting with a serial cable, newsgroups and Usenet, bundling up levels to sell, connecting over the early Internet, getting into Valve, the magic of Seattle weather, describing how your levels work as part of the interview, an interview between peers, having only the pieces and pulling them together, technology coming online and throwing away a lot of levels beforehand, creating structure by drawing with charcoal on big pieces of paper, having a central focus for a level because designers came up with their own ideas, unifying the design, setting core hours starting from 11am, integrating a new mechanic, competing with one another's levels and with other companies, not wanting long stretches without something new, paranoia and passion and terror, Quake Engine Licensee Cold War, level transition technology, hokey conventions, maintaining complete control of the character, having doors to begin and end the level, having to implement your own stuff even up to save and load, mixing and matching mechanics, not confusing the player: show them a puzzle clearly and then layer complexity for them to figure out, not stopping the player, playtesting was number one, creative autonomy, single-player vs multi-player design effort per second of play, level design and programming interactions, corrupting the Borg-like purity of programmers' work, how level design has changed in two decades, the products should change but the people shouldn't have to, maintaining the culture, doing a thing every day, getting less terrible day by day, finding the thing that undergirds a new Half-Life, having access to the source, analysis paralysis, constraints in engines, Hackathon weeks, bending engines, you can't shut him up.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Tacoma, Starcraft (obliquely), Milo Casali, Quake, Doom, LucasArts, Chris Klie, Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield, id Software, Shawn Green, American McGee, Ted Backman, Marc Laidlaw, code name Quiver, Kelly Bailey, John Guthrie, Fallout, Sin, Daikatana, Jay Stelly, Unreal, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, 343 Industries, Microsoft, Gabe Newell, Bethesda Game Studios, Brian Robb, John Webb, DotA 2, IceFrog, Narbacular Drop, DigiPen, Counterstrike, Forge, Halo, June, Jonathan DeLuca, SuperGiant Games, Greg Kasavin, Bastion, Transistor, Amir Rao, Zelda, Metroid, Shovel Knight, Brian Taylor, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Skyrim, Starfighter, Rich Davis, Jedi Starfighter, Andrew Kirmse, lucasrizoli, TakLocke, BattleTech, MechWarrior, MechAssault, TIE Fighter, Steel Battalion, Trent Polack, Steel Hunters, Joy Machine Games, FASA, Shadowrun, Jordan Weisman, Haden Blackman, Crossbones, Bachs, Fernandez, Chad Barth, Shibby Train, Fallout 3, The Last Guardian.

Next time:
We will play and discuss a bit of Half-Life 2

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

Jul 5, 2017

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we are discussing Valve Software's 1998 classic Half-Life. This week we welcome Marc Laidlaw, long-time Valve employee and writer of Half-Life. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Podcast breakdown:
0:40       Interview with Marc Laidlaw
1:04:50  Break
1:05:16  Feedback/Questions

Issues covered: getting started at Valve, looking at story in first person games, unshipped game at Valve, getting Quake community people to work on Half-Life, the early plan for the company, finding features by building lots of tests, randomly discussing features with press, making outrageous promises to spur on the team, the development of a fully realized place, totality of effect, designing from the bottom-up and fitting stuff together later, having employees who were used to working alone, going back to the drawing board, hinting at other levels and wanting the glory, non-physical spaces, lone wolves, needing an overall director to enforce co-authorship, using the Cabal to fulfill that role, being in the trenches and etching into your brain, living Half-Life for two years, avoiding the space marine trope, making the gimmick "science," doing science experiments in game development, intricacy of clockwork levels/Chinese puzzle boxes, the technology of magic, working to get a reaction, characters emerging from setting, bridging to Half-Life 2, magic tricks being even more impressive when you know how they're done, user testing, knowing what questions to ask, players not getting to the ends of games, trying to avoid having to teach the player, expecting a literate player, keeping it clean and transparent, having no model for the main character generating a constraint, reacting to player experiences of the demo, working out of a corner/desperation, creating within constraints, having too much freedom (analysis paralysis), Marc's work available on Kindle, taking breaks, writing in the early days of video games, always in the helmet, E3 memories/discussion.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Day of the Tentacle, Half-Life 2, Portal, Counterstrike: Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, DotA 2, Eric Wolpaw, Jay Pinkerton, id Software, Quake, Michael Abrash, Mike Harrington, Gabe Newell, WIRED Magazine, Worldcraft, Ben Morris, Prospero, John Guthrie (Choryoth), Steve Bond (Wedge), Blues News, Harry Teasley, Peter Molyneux, Edgar Allan Poe, Thieves' World anthologies, Randy Lundeen, Shigeru Miyamoto, Kelly Bailey, Dave Riller, Ken Birdwell, Dario Casali, Alfred Hitchcock, Microsoft, Uncharted 4, Duke Nuke'em, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Prey (2017), Nioh, Breath of the Wild, Bill Roper, Janos Flosser, Starfighter, Wayne Cline, Republic Commando, Ryan Kaufman, Mike Stemmle, Hal Barwood, Sean Clark, Jonathan Ackley, Larry Ahern, Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, RebelFM, Phil Rosehill, Link to the Past, Super Metroid, ToeJam & Earl, LucasArts, Alexander Farr, Kotaku, Final Fantasy 9, Jason Schreier, Tacoma, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian, Halo 5, 343 Industries, Bethesda Game Studios, Unreal, Nintendo Wii, Evil Avatar, Phil Kollar, Polygon, Sony, Metal Gear (series), Witcher III, Anthem, No Man's Sky, Hello Games, Joe Danger, Assassin's Creed (series), Red Dead (series), PAX, Ficus/@giant_rat.

Next time:
Another Interview!

Links:
Marc's website

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub
DevGameClub@gmail.com

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